Employer Branding

Why Uncovering Your Competitive Differentiators is Key to Your Employer Branding

Uncovering your firm’s “competitive differentiators” could be the key to making your  Employer Branding Program truly standout!

Each firm has differentiators. These differentiators will make all the difference to prospective new hire candidates (and internal employees). They can be “competitive hooks” to grab and re-attract candidates.

You need to (regularly) unearth and uncover these doing external opinion surveys and in-house opinion surveys and questionnaires and a variety of other sources. When I was at was at Monsanto, I used to go into new hire orientation and conduct a mini “focus group”; I asked the new hires why they joined? what did they think of their new company? and etc.  New experienced hires are a first great source. I did the same thing on campuses when I participated in an exclusive Monsanto day panel discussion at a big ten Ag school.

You can also discover them by opinion surveys administered in-house by your Training & Development Department working in tandem with Human Resources. Also, your in-house Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can be engaged to probe for these. Your alumni can also give insights into your “competitive differentiators”—provided, of course, you have set up an alumni communications process and have developed an alumni entry “portal” page on your internal career landing page.  As I alluded to slightly above, do not forget your Colleges and University recruits and relationships, namely—students, interns, co-op students, faculty, Career Services people, student clubs and associations, and etc. Set up (on-campus) meetings with all of these constituent groups and turn it into a “focus group”; probe for what they think of your company as a place to work and would they recommend their classmates to go there as well. Enlist the help and support of your summer interns and co-op students; get and record their comments. Also, after your gather their information –and synch it up with your Employer Value Proposition and Employer Brand Program–go a step further and start to inculcate them about your firm—as the “best place to work” or the “best place to start their career”. Lastly, put a College and Graduate School Campus Ambassador Program in place—offering some form of semester financial stipend and “branded” collateral material; this group could be a constant and automatically pipeline to how students feel about your firm and its Employer Brand.  Similarly, invite Professors and Faculty to your firm either individually or as a group for a day and create an entire day-long program extolling your firm. I have found Faculty most helpful in “steering” their best students our way based on “how great we are as a company”.

Also, for your industry are there some universal and standard items that firms in your industry must uphold and have, above all else? I can think of one industry observed differentiator—“free air travel” for airlines employees. Admittedly, this is unique to airlines. (In fact, though, even airlines employees rarely if ever fly totally for free; even with their benefits, the taxes and fees alone – which include security fees, international fees, and fuel surcharges – can total hundreds of dollars on an international itinerary). You get my point.

Differentiators can be such things as salary, benefits, work scheduling, culture, work environment, company values, mission, company location, and etc. Furthermore, examine how your differentiators which we can now label as competitive differentiators can differentiate you from your peer competitors.

Also, do research to determine what your competitors “competitive differentiators are. Invest a lot of time in detailed research of all kind to uncover them. Established an (internal) market research function within Talent Acquisition; or hire an external research firm. Analyze their public information and websites to unearth their “competitive differentiator”  Hire away their people and do a focus group with them. Hopefully, your firm’s are better, if not set a plan to make them better. This market research is very important in keeping your EVP and Employer Brand as current as possible. And incorporate them in your “Employer Brand Architecture” for your main Employer Brand and in your Divisional (level) sub-brands for unique internal departments like engineering and IT.

Remember, strong Employer Brands (and EVPs) use compelling differentiators to engage and inform their target audiences and promote the perception and reality of their firm as—the place to work and grow and stay.

About the Author: John “Johnny” Torrance-Nesbitt is an award-winning Global Employer Branding & Global Talent Acquisition executive with 15 plus years in building/leading global and national talent acquisition programs and employer branding functions at several global Fortune 500 companies. The past 3 years *since 2015) he has been  working globally working in Global Employer Branding and Talent Acquisition and was an Employer Branding Director at Randstad and has been Director of Employment Branding & University Relations at Monsanto in St. Louis for over five-plus years where he won four consecutive “Rapid Recognition Awards” for superior achievements. Prior to that, he was at Lockheed (corporate hdqts) in Maryland as head office Corporate Staffing Supervisor & Senior Recruiter. Johnny was also nominated in 2018 by his former organizational behavior professor, Dave Ulrich, for the prestigious “Employer Brand Leader of the Year 2018 (Global Leader Category.)” and by others in 2019. He is also a volunteer appointed a judge for Employer Brand Management Awards and the Web Marketing Association and a writer. Mr. Nesbitt holds a Bachelors in Anthropology from Amherst with Dean’s List honors and obtained his MBA in Finance in 1988 after which he worked 3 years in Corporate Finance for First Chicago Capital Markets, Inc. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnnyTorrNesbi, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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